Mites: In the context of dermestid beetle colonies, which are often used in taxidermy and natural history museums for cleaning skeletal material, mites can be significant pests. Mites are extremely small arthropods, often barely visible to the naked eye. They belong to the class Arachnida, which also includes spiders and ticks. There are thousands of mite species, with a variety of lifestyles, but certain types are known to infest dermestid beetle colonies.

In these colonies, mites can be detrimental for several reasons. They compete with the beetles for food, which is usually the flesh and soft tissues of carcasses that the beetles are meant to clean. Some mites are also parasitic, feeding directly on the beetles or their larvae, which can weaken or even kill them. Moreover, mites can cause environmental imbalances in the colony’s habitat, leading to issues like mold growth which further affects the health of the beetles.

Managing mite populations is crucial for maintaining healthy dermestid beetle colonies. This can involve environmental controls, like regulating humidity and temperature, as well as physical cleaning and the use of natural mite predators. Understanding and controlling mite infestations is key to ensuring that dermestid beetles can effectively carry out their role in natural specimen preparation and conservation.